Tutorial of Skin Tone with a Painting Software

By Alina Bradford
How to Use Photoshop or Corel to Create Realistic Skin Tones

The Red Feather 5costume sketchCreating realistic skin tones is one of the hardest things to do in any kind of painting, that doesn’t excluded art programs like Photoshop or Corel. For the most part, art programs are similar enough to that you can use this tutorial for no matter what kind you have.

Step One

I am using just a part of a larger painting so that we can focus on the process.

The Red Feather 1First, I decided what kind of skin tone I wanted my person to have. Forget about classifying your subject as “white,” “black,” “red,” or “yellow.” Not only is it not politically correct, it is also misleading. No matter what culture, most people either have a yellow undertone to their skin or a pink undertone, or

more simply a warm or cool undertone. Using this information you can make an informed decision on what kind of colors you will need.

With this character I used a yellow undertone. How did I arrive at my colors? I went to the part of the color wheel that is very close to a yellow-brown. I selected colors in this row of hues. The peach hue I used as the lightest color and a light brown I used for shadows. As you will see, I used many colors in between.

I used 50% opacity on all colors.

The Red Feather 2Step Two

I took the darkest color and started to add the shadows. I always put a dot of the color I’m using in the corner of my canvas so that I can always use my eyedropper to get the color again without any guess work.
Remember, crevices are usually the dark places on skin, such as below the lip, under the eyes, nostrils, etc.

The Red Feather 3Step Three

I used a lighter hue of the first color to fill in the whole skin area.

Step Four

I used my lightest color, about four shades darker than white, to highlight the parts of the skin that were in direct line of light. The cheek bones, the highest parts of the nose, the chin, and collar bone are usually the prime areas for light.

The Red Feather 4Step Five

In this last step I went back with the colors I used before and made areas either lighter or darker depending on how well all the colors blended. This is the finished painting. (Note: The red on the cheeks of the subject is part of a Halloween mask.)

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